Award-winning playwright Clare Lizzimore’s newest play comes to Studio Theatre this fall as part of the Women’s Voices Theater Festival, a celebration of the works of female playwrights making their debut in theaters around the DC area. Lizzimore’s Animal explores the struggles of domestic life through the lens of Rachel, a woman with a solid marriage and career. But something is making her restless, and she can’t quite put her finger on it.
Animal follows Rachel as she navigates this range of unsettling emotions, taking advice from her husband and psychiatrist. She flirts with different ideas for how to make sense of and grapple with the feelings bubbling up inside of her, from positive thinking to medication to spontaneous behavior.
Lizzimore was inspired to write the dark comedy after meeting and speaking with a number of women who were having similar experiences to Rachel’s.
“It seemed to me the different kinds of pressures on these women and what drove their behavior was not fully understood, and that felt [like] an interesting area to explore,” she says.
The playwright has felt many of the same frustrations about the world that Rachel encounters, and hopes that audiences will enjoy the play’s humor while also feeling compassion for the struggling protagonist – and maybe even pondering her predicament.
“I think relating to characters onstage is less important than understanding them. Theater works best when it’s not that the character onstage is like the audience, but that the audience begins to understand and empathize with the choices of a character who on the surface may not be like them at all.”
Lizzimore will also participate in the festival’s Playwrights as Hybrid Artists event at Studio Theatre on Oct. 3 as part of a panel of artists who will speak about their active professional lives in more than one area of theater. She says it will hopefully provide real insight into a how piece of work is crafted.
“And crucially, I hope it will also demystify what can seem really impenetrable about where to start in the industry, or how to create work, or even just be an opportunity to appreciate a behind-the-scenes type exposé of how we all kick-start ideas.”
Animal, directed by Gaye Taylor Upchurch, will run at Studio Theatre until Oct. 25. Tickets for the production are $20-$40.
STUDIO THEATRE: 1501 14th St. NW, DC; 202-232-3300; www.studiotheatre.org